Epic Interview: Recap

Did you miss parts 1-5 of my epic interview with Bernard Schaffer? Well don’t despair!

Just head on over here for part 1

Start at the beginning, it’s a very good place to start. From there you will find the other 4 parts of what turned out to be a truly insightful interview. Schaffer reveals a lot of himself, including a few things I for one had never heard before. He spoke about Harlan Ellison and gave his thoughts on Stephen King and why he considers him to be a sell-out.

For the record, I think that too, which is why I’m NOT reading his latest novel, Revival purely out of principle. I made this decision prior to Bernard’s interview, but it was nice to see the same opinion coming from someone else.

Part 1 of Confederation Reborn is FREE today and tomorrow, so if you fancy giving this exciting new series a go then by all means grab a copy.

Here’s the link: Return Fire Part 1 (Confederation Reborn)

Thanks for reading. Are you an author? Would you be interested in one of these epic interviews? GET IN TOUCH!

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Epic Interview: Part 5

PART 5 OF AN EPIC INTERVIEW WITH . . . BERNARD SCHAFFER

Q: This is the last and final part of our epic, week-long interview. I want to shift the focus from Bernard Schaffer the writer to Bernard Schaffer the man. How is the balance between your responsibilities and duties as a father,  your career in law enforcement and your writing? What’s happiness?

Bernard: This year the kids and I became soccer hooligans, in support of the Philadelphia Union and the U.S. National Team. Happiness is sitting at PPL Park surrounded by hundreds of singing, chanting, drum beating, smoke bomb igniting, fellow fans. Our supporters club is called the Sons of Ben for the Union and the American Outlaws for the US Team. The kids are healthy. The books are selling. The writing goes where I tell it. The bills are paid. I have nothing obstructing my path. I can’t ask for more than that right now.

Q: You’ve just turned REDACTED (ha!) years old. How does that feel? What’s your perspective on REDACTED years on this planet?

Bernard: it’s all right you can say it. I turned 40 in October. It’s odd because 40 is old as far as anyone under 40 is concerned. But I feel good. Better, in fact, than I did a few years ago. Of course, physically it’s not the same. I get pretty banged up doing normal stuff. This summer I blew out my right calf playing soccer with the kids and it was just awful.

 Q: Do you fear growing older?

Bernard: I don’t. I am hoping to do it with a grace and dignity that I don’t quite have yet. Hopefully by the time I enter my white haired, bearded phase.

Q: We made predictions beforehand – how about a few for Bernard. What’s in-store for the next 10 years?

Bernard: I often tell people that I don’t have dreams. I have goals, and I have plans to reach those goals. I don’t want to say what they are though. If I reach them, believe me, you’ll know.

Q: One of the greatest joys of my life so far has been fatherhood. That said, it’s a stressful never-ending job to be a parent. There surely isn’t anything so hard, yet rewarding, both at the same time. As those of us who follow you on twitter and facebook know, you’re a dedicated father. How has parenthood impacted you as a person?

Bernard: when people I know have children, I tell them that they will now learn the meaning of fear. Your whole life has been worrying about yourself and your well being. Having a child changes all that. I can honestly say being a dad is the best thing I’ve ever done, and the thing I want to do best. I’m not always as good as I want to be at it, but I always try harder next time.

 Q: It’s a rainy day. You’ve got nothing else to do. What are you listening to?

Bernard: for a rainy day? Either the new albums by Prince, Morrissey, or Sia.

Q: You have some lunch, feel like doing some reading. What book are you taking down off the shelf?

Bernard: I’m muddling through the first Game of Thrones at the moment. It’s just long, and since I watch the show I’m not dying to know what happens next.

Q: It’s still raining as darkness falls outside. You figure that you’ll watch a movie and head for bed. What movie?

Bernard: right now? The Full Monty. I have an idea for a book and that’s the tone I’m looking for. I want to rewatch the movie to see how it plays now.

Q: What scares you? On the reverse of that, what doesn’t scare you?

Bernard: losing my family. Or failing them. Leaving behind unfinished work. What doesn’t scare me? Spiders. Or bugs. I’m good with them. Not snakes, though.

Q: A good morning is . . .

Bernard: waking up next to a beautiful woman. Letting her sleep while I go downstairs and make coffee and have time to write. Come back up to bed after awhile…stay for awhile longer… Go get the kids and begin our day.

Q: Anyone who has read your brilliant novel, The Girl From Tenerife, will know that you’re a romantic. How does that come through not only your writing, but your life in general?

Bernard: I’m a very romantic person. I love to write poetry and woo a woman. To think of her and know she is thinking of me. But that can also be a detriment. To be a true romantic, you have to commit. To go all in, even when it’s foolish to do so. The trick is finding someone worthy of going all in for, because they are doing the same.

Q: You said on your Facebook page a few weeks ago that you’re taking a year to focus on yourself. Talk about that for a moment.

Bernard: I was engaged to a woman for a long time. We lived together for over five years. That ended in the beginning of the summer and it seems like I have a perfect opportunity to focus on myself and my work. To not worry about the balance of being in a relationship and pursuing my goals. Of course, who knows what will happen. I love women. I feel more alive with one in my life. It inspires me to new heights when I feel that passion. And of course…I said I’d be single for a year. I never said I’d be a monk.

Q: If you had enough money to quit your job, focus solely on writing, how would you envision that playing out?

Bernard:  Honestly I don’t think my writing output would change. I write a lot already. The difference would be the time I had to pursue other things in life. For years I’ve worked full-time and written full time. I’d get more sleep. Maybe take a vacation.

Q: Given the funds and time to do so, where would you like to visit?

Bernard: I’d like to visit my good friend Tony Healey in the U.K.  That would be my first choice, to be perfectly honest.

Q: What does the “Bernard Schaffer Bucket List” look like?

Bernard: I couldn’t say, to be honest. Let’s see. One thing I want to do is take the kids to a dude ranch and let us live the cowboy life for a week. I’d like to see the World Cup. That will have to wait because I’m not going to Russia and I’m not going to Qatar in the summertime. I’d rather burn my money than give it to Putin. Ultimately, I’d like to settle down with someone special.

Q: Last question. You can hold a conversation with anyone you like. It could be Elvis, your ancestor, Barack Obama. Whoever. Who do you hold that conversation with, and what would you ask them?

Bernard: I’d like to talk to myself at 13 years old. I have a lot of things to say that he should know. Things that would save him an awful lot of time.

Thanks so much with taking part in this truly epic interview. We’ve taken a whole week to come to this point. I really hope that your readers, and friends, have enjoyed getting to know you a little more intimately.

Bernard: Tony, your skills as an interviewer are superb. Thank you for your excellent questions and giving me so much to think about.

*****

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Epic Interview: Part 4

PART 4 OF AN EPIC INTERVIEW WITH . . . BERNARD SCHAFFER

Q: What was the genesis of Confederation Reborn?

Bernard: I’d come up with this unshakeable idea for a new Star Trek series that just worked. It paid homage to what came before, while giving the franchise a shot of much-needed vitality and adrenaline. When I realized I wouldn’t get the rights to do Star Trek, and that they’re not interested in staking any new ground, I went back to the drawing board. I realized that we could take the entire mythology of Star Trek and reshape it. The franchise itself is a reshape of multiple other mythologies in SciFi and western and military stories, etc. Confederation Reborn is just evolving that concept.

Q: How did you come up with the series title? What does it mean?

Bernard: I wanted everything to be similar enough to the source, so that fans knew what and who I was taking about, but just different enough to keep from getting sued.

Q: Tell us about Return Fire.

Bernard: that’s the foundation for the rest of the titles in the series, but it’s at the end. It’s after the entire history of Confederation, right up to its present time. As I wrote it, I realized you can’t discuss the mass and weight of this thing without actually having a history. Otherwise, it’s just a paper doll. The best part was, as I began to conceptualize this history, it became clear that we can go back and tell stories from all those various eras.

Q: Your stories in Confederation Reborn take place after The Invasion has devastated inhabited space. Some might read this to be post-apocalyptic fiction. But, circling back to Part 3 of this interview in a way, is it really about stepping back into the light?

Bernard: I actually don’t see it as apocalyptic. I see it as more of a modern times analogy. Let’s face it, people are wondering if the US is still going to be here a hundred years from now.  Or the UK. Or any of the major world powers. Confederation is a governmental organization that everybody thinks had seen the last of its good days. It’s up to the people in that organization to find a way to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get back on track. The secret is, it’s always been the people who made it great. It will be the people who make it great again. Same as my country, same as yours.

Q: It’s hard not to make a connection between the events prior to Return Fire and one of the most catastrophic terrorist attacks in recent years – 9/11. It seems as if the events of that day will have continued repercussions for years to come. What are the parallels between an America rising up from the shadow of terrorism, and a Confederation regrouping following a terrible alien invasion?

Bernard: as horrific as 9/11 was, America is not unique in being attacked or suffering loss. Now, after Sandy Hook and all the other incidents we’ve dealt with, it seems like one long series of nightmares. But anybody can show greatness when things are easy. Anybody can rise to the occasion when the occasion is small and arbitrary. To be truly great as a person, as a team, as a country, you have to do it when it counts. If America wants to be that shining city on the hill, and I believe that we can, and I believe that we are, now is the time to prove it.

Q: Certainly, the “War on Terror” hasn’t all been about enacting justice and doing what is right. It’s also forced us to take a long hard look at ourselves and ask the important questions. “What are our values?” “How far do we go?” “What separates us from them?” “Where does extremism come from?” The list could go on. In a way, asking these questions of ourselves relates to the act of writing itself in that during the writing of a story or novel, we’re forced to face our own fears, our own inadequacies. Is that what all writers aspire to do, ultimately? Find the truth in what they’re saying. Confront their own darkness to understand that of others?

Bernard: One thing I’ve tried to explain in way of the warrior is that I haven’t really met many evil people. I’ve met people who have done evil things and cruel things and horrible things but in their mind they were justified. If we were to speak with Hitler or Osama bin Laden or any other commonly thought of as evil person I guarantee you they wouldn’t see themselves in that same way. They would have their explanations and rationalizations for everything that they had done. And none of it would make sense to me or you but that wouldn’t matter because it made sense to them. When I was writing Whitechapel I had to call the FBI’s behavioral sciences unit. They’re the ones who deal with serial killers.  I could not fathom why Jack the Ripper had done what he’d done. Why was he killing the victims in that way? Why was he arranging them in that way? Why was he stealing their organs. I was looking for a scientific explanation. What they told me, and what I believe to be true, is that there is no scientific explanation. The only person it made sense to was Jack the Ripper. As long as my character understood what he was doing and why he was doing it then it was as real and plausible as any other theory.

Q: If think what has worked so well with Confederation Reborn so far is that you’ve presented variations on classic character archetypes. Every one of them is nuanced in a very real and grounded way. Nothing is in black and white. Referring back to the previous question, there’s a point during Return Fire that I started questioning their hatred of The Swarm. Certainly the Captain’s approach. Do you think we have a responsibility, in this day and age, to make every character a multi-faceted personality who feels real, believable and relatable?

Bernard: I think it certainly makes for a better story. The idea of a cookie-cutter bad guy won’t fly anymore. Readers are too astute. Obviously, there have been successful books that did not examine the antagonist. We don’t know anything about Sauron or why he wants to destroy Middle Earth. Gollum, on the other hand is a much richer character who is clearly a villain, but also tragic. Probably the best author I’ve ever seen do it is Thomas Harris. The way he examines the serial killers in Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs is both fascinating and horrifying because they seem so real. I wouldn’t call it a responsibility, per se, as in our collective social duty as authors. I’d call it a good decision as a storyteller.

Q: In what way do you draw on your own experiences, as a boy and a man, in writing your characters? In finding their truth and expressing it so well on the page?

Bernard: my police career informs my work, in more ways than even I can fathom, I’m sure. My relationships with my kids, the loves and fears I have for them, all play into my work. And last but not least, all the women that have been in my life. All the women I’ve ever lost. All the women I’ve ever wanted. Alex Maisey once asked me what motivated me to write so much. I told him I hate being poor. I think of all the things I want in life and the only way to get them is to break through in this business. Really, my idea of luxury is to make enough money writing that I can have more time for writing. It’s a circle, of course.

Q: Forgive me, I’m going to quote Star Trek V now. I’m thinking of the scene where Sybok offers to reveal Kirk’s inner pain and hurt. Reveal it and help him come to terms with it. But Kirk refuses. “I need my pain!”. I tried for years to write and was never able to do more than a few thousand words before giving up. But once I was married, had a daughter, had lived a little, I found my perspective on things had changed. I’d become a man, and that informed my writing. In fact, my own experiences, combined with those others had told me, gave me something to write about. Does personal experience add another level to someone’s writing?

Bernard: I’ll tell you something about me no one knows. When I was eighteen years old I decided I needed more life experience, so I went out in search of as many strange jobs as I could find. I dug ditches, carried buckets of concrete up from basements, cleaned toilets, worked security at a trash dump, sold knives, and worked at Adult World. Adult World is a porno shop where they sell x-rated movies, sex toys, and rent video booths out. I rang the register and cleaned the booths at night. And as bad as that sounds, which it was, that wasn’t the worst part. The video machines in the booths only accepted dollar bills, so little old men would come in and get twenty, fifty dollars in singles. When they opened their wallets, I’d see pictures of their grandkids or their wives and families. Then, they’d vanish into the video booths. Invariably, I’d watch these old men go from booth to booth, searching for someone to hook up with. They’d skulk in the shadows, turning doorknobs on lit booths, searching for someone who’s left it open. It was just sad. These desperate people searching for human contact. It was my first true look at the face of humanity, and has served me well in detectives. Of course, there were upsides to the job. I had a lot of female customers and some wanted…well. I was a young man then. Maybe that was my first true look at the face of humanity, come to think of it.

Q: When did you start writing for real, and what precipitated that?

Bernard: several things happened to me all at once. I got separated from my wife and was living in this tiny, dismal apartment with no heat and yellow water. I missed the kids terribly. Up till that point I’d been a blogger and essay writer and written a lot of short stories. I had ideas for novels, but none of them ever got off the ground. So there I was, going out of my mind, and this woman named Karen reached out to me one day to comment on a blog I’d written. Karen was the first person to really encourage me to become a serious writer. She pushed me in ways no one ever had before. She was brutal in her critiques, something I’d never been able to tolerate before, but since I was already at such a low point, there wasn’t much ego to shred. She was the one who helped me escape the blogger, comic book script mentality and get serious. I love her very much for that.

 Q: There are a lot of different writers at work on Confederation Reborn stories, set throughout its timeline. The story we wrote together, for instance, is set during the Renaissance Period and features Captain Kirn. It’s very much in the style of classic Trek. How do you plan on keeping the continuity consistent?

Bernard: it’s going to be tricky. I’ve been compiling a writer’s guide as we go along, trying to keep all the details consistent. When I wrote Whitechapel, I had huge maps and 1888 calendars taped to the walls of my apartment, just to keep myself on track. I’m used to large projects. Laurie, the editor, is a big help also. She’s used to searching for canon consistency with large sagas, from your Far From Home series, to my Grendel and so forth.

Q: How does what you’re doing with Confederation Reborn compare with, say, Kindle Worlds?

Bernard: well, the difference is that Kindle Worlds has the power of the world’s largest book distributor behind it. It deals with established properties. Confederation Reborn is a project of love that I’m putting together with my friends. I am interested in Kindle World’s though. I may have some involvement with them in the near future.

Q: Science fiction serials are a proven success on Kindle – what are your hopes for Confederation Reborn as an ongoing series set across multiple timelines?

Bernard: multiple individual episodes dealing with a particular era or storyline that are compiled into larger complete editions.

Q: Is Confederation Reborn a return to the core premise of Star Trek? And how does it compare to the deluge of Trek novels already out there?

Bernard: it is meant to. That is what I designed it to do. As far as the deluge goes, I think they’re doing their best with what they’re allowed to do. There are people who love Picard and Janeway and want to read more about their continuing adventures. The trouble is, that’s drawn pretty thin now. Confederation Reborn is not only a way to move that entire mythology forward, it can play with the ideas in new ways. We’re reinterpreting Star Trek, as well as other franchises, but at the same time we have no obligation to play by the rules. We can do whatever we want with our characters.

*****

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Epic Interview: Part 3

PART 3 OF AN EPIC INTERVIEW WITH . . . BERNARD SCHAFFER

Q: You famously meshed the western with science fiction in The Guns of Seneca 6. Tell us how that project came about.

Bernard: a lifelong love of both genres. I’d recently visited Wyatt Earp’s grave in California, and was reading a lot of western fiction at the time. One of the most profound influences on GOS6 was my experiences with the Seminole Indians I know. My old partner at work is Seminole, and through him And his family I experienced native culture, music, and ritual. When you are a white kid from Horsham Township, PA, and you find yourself in a teepee, participating in a native wedding ceremony, it’s an eye opener.

Q: It’s not quite finished yet, is it? You have this concept of each book being a chamber in a gun. I believe we’re up to four chambers. When can we expect the last two?

Bernard: that’s something I wrestle with, to be honest. I have them both written in my mind. But they’re big projects and I want to devote myself to them exclusively. I may need to clear out a lot of other things first. Stephen King recently said he’ll never be done with The Dark Tower. I worry that GOS6 is going to loom over me forever as well.

Q: Was the great reception to Guns of Seneca 6 on your mind when you created Grendel Unit?

Bernard: actually Grendel is much easier to write. The characters are all based on my old narcotics unit. It’s just us, but instead we’re carrying laser guns, whacking terrorists.

Q: There are some fantastic characters in Grendel Unit – Monster being my favourite. I even asked to include a Mantipor in my Far From Home series, and got you to name her. I think they’re my favourite creations of yours. What’s it like to create a group of characters like that, who just work so well together, and let them play? Does it make the writing easier?

Bernard: I can tell you this much. Knowing what happens in the next installment makes it a lot harder. But that’s all I’m saying.

Q: Westerns play such a huge role in genre science fiction. What are your Western influences? And how have they informed what you write?

Bernard: my western influences in terms of literature would be Ron Hansen, Louis L’Amour, Cormac McCarthy, and Annie Proulx. Ron’s western books are fantastic characterizations of historical figures. His Jesse James book is one of the finest I’ve ever read. Jem Clayton in the beginning of Guns of Seneca 6 is essentially a recreation of that character. Jem evolves, of course, but his roots are firmly indebted to Ron. Louis L’Amour has the grand, epic scope of the western. His Cowboys and Indians are the prototypes for everything we understand them to be. As far as Cormac and Annie go, it’s in their language. Both of them have such awe-Inspiring ability when it comes to describing that area of the country. I would love to know how many goddamn ways Cormac McCarthy has used to describe a desert in his books. That talented bastard.

Q: I’ve recently got hooked on Justified (and am now chewing through the last of Season 5). The Western seems to play really well in long form storytelling, as it does in a series like Justified or Deadwood. What makes a good Western?

Bernard: a good western is one that eschews all the sentimental crap, stripping it down to the raw grit of the thing, only to find that reason it was sentimental in first place. Let me explain. The Wild Bunch spends its entire movie destroying the typical Western mythos. It bashes us over the head with how violent and unromantic the era really was. But then you get to the scene at the end when, after they’ve whored and drank and pulled off their heist, decide they’re going to go back and get their friend. That walk, when Pike and the guys are going to demand the release of Angel, knowing it’s not going to go well, is what a good Western is about. It’s when normal people draw that line in the sand and say, “I’ve had about enough of this shit.” It works for the Western, the samurai, the Starfleet captain, and the President facing off with terrorists. It’s that moment in all of us when we decide the cause is more important than ourselves.

Q: One could read the struggle of the frontier as the pursuit of the American Dream, in a way. How do you think the American Dream relates to science fiction?

Bernard: I think they really hit the nail on the head when they called space the Final Frontier. It’s really just another unexplored, unsettled territory filled with riches and promise and danger. The difference between space exploration and the American West is that anything we do in space will be huge, colossal governmental undertakings. The frontier was where people went to get away from the government and live on their own.

Q: In Star Trek, Gene Roddenbery portrayed an idealistic future that very much embraced the sensibilities behind the American Dream. Is that hopeful worldview still relevant to today’s audience, given what has happened globally in the last 10-15 years? Or does it make it all the more important?

Bernard: I’m not sure I agree with that. I think the American Dream would not correlate well with Star Trek. If anything, I see Star Trek as some fantastical success of Socialism. The American Dream is pretty rooted in individualism and capitalism. It is much more geared toward individual success than collective endeavor. Sadly enough, I think we’re a long ways away from any kind of unity of human purpose. Not with ISIS and Al Qaeda and mass shooters and crumbling infrastructures and social issues to deal with first. Right now, we need a little of that rugged American, Land of the Free, Home of the Brave spirit.  After that, maybe we can move forward.

Q: Do we, as writers, owe it to future generations to have a degree of optimism in our fiction? To quote Jimmy Cliff: “Good will conquer evil and the truth will set you free”. Do you think that, no matter how dark our stories, we have a responsibility to show the light, too? Or does pessimism simply tell it how it is? I guess what I’m really asking is if there’s a place for hope in today’s fiction.

Bernard: I think our only obligation as story tellers is to be true to the story. Not all things end well. They’re not supposed to. Some stories are bleak, and they remind us to better appreciate what we have. It’s up to the reader to determine what they take away from it. People assign allegorical meaning to poems or paintings all the time, then they’re disproven or shouted down by someone else with a different theory. That is all okay. And they’re all right, even if they’re all wrong. The only thing writers owe to future generations is good writing. This is our limited time to care for literature, to uphold the craft, and to tell our stories.

Let’s make sure we leave them something worthy.

*****

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Epic Interview: Part 2

PART 2 OF AN EPIC INTERVIEW WITH . . . BERNARD SCHAFFER

Q: In Part 1 of this interview I asked you to predict the next 10 years for humanity. How about we scale it down a tad. With the publishing game in complete upheaval right now, what do you predict for it a decade on?

Bernard:  Let me just go on record here and say that the authors protesting Amazon are sell-outs, enslaved to their corporate masters. I’m not saying that to be controversial, either. They are sell-outs who have a master/slave mentality and are shilling for big business. I love Stephen King, but he’s a sell out. King loves indie film, to the point that he’s responsible for bringing the Evil Dead film franchise into the mainstream, but you never hear him say a single word about indie authors. Why is that? Why is it that independent film and music is celebrated by their respective industries, but independent authors are slandered? It’s elitism at the highest levels. Shameful behavior. But I can understand why the super agents and big publishing houses are terrified. They can’t compete with us. We do it faster, cheaper, and better than they do. In ten years, the debate won’t matter because traditional publishing will cease to exist.

Q: I belong to a group of writers on Facebook called The Dragon’s Rocketship. They’re a great bunch. But I still see posts on there from members who are doing it all the old-fashioned way. Submitting to a publisher or agent, waiting while their work sits on a slush pile. Do you think these are people who just don’t know enough about independent publishing?

Bernard: this is something that took me a long time to understand, but I get it now. The fact is, not everybody can do this. It’s a lot of work. Indie authors/publishers are responsible for much more than just writing. We need to edit, format, design, publicize, and manage existing titles. Some people simply aren’t cut out for that. I am not an advocate for independent publishing any more. It’s not my job to convince you to take ownership of your own career and future. I’ll tell you one time, “Hey, listen, the world is round.” I’m not going to explain why it is, or how I know it, or convince you it’s true. There will always be people standing there with their knees knocking together, afraid of falling over the edge of the world.

Q: Tell us about The Manifesto for Independent Publishing. Why did you write it and, now that it’s been out for a little while, do you feel you’ve gotten through to enough people or is it all falling on deaf ears?

Bernard: it’s out there for people who want the information. The book got lost in the sea of other books claiming to give you the key to mass fortunes by self-publishing. Most of the people who write guides to publishing, etc, don’t write anything else. That is the only book of its kind you’ll ever see from me. I’m a working author, not a guru.

Q: As independent authors we’re facing an uphill battle from the start. What must every indie do to produce a high-quality book that can challenge those published by the Big Five? What’s essential?

Bernard: My opinion is, if you’re going to charge people money for something, it better be decent quality. Think of all the reading options people have. They decided to read you instead of Hemingway, or Faulkner, or Rowling. They picked you, and by God you’d better make it worth their time. That means re-writing, editing, formatting, and proofreading. Have I always gotten it right? No. But I try to, and I’m getting better at it everyday. One of the benefits of indie publishing is we can give people a lot of value for a little money. Much better than big publishing can, anyway.

Q: You’ve used the analogy before of stepping into the ring with the heavyweights of publishing. Do you still feel that way? And is it just the publishers themselves or is it also those who continue to support that way of doing things?

Bernard: I visualize things in terms of fighting. Or training to fight. Ali always said that fights are won long before you enter the ring. They are won in the gym and won on the road, at five in the morning when no one can see. To me, that represents those times in the middle of the night when I wake up thinking of a scene, and I give up sleep to write it down. That represents those times I stay at home writing and formatting when every one else is out having fun. I’m a hungry, hungry competitor and I came to win. Is the opponent big publishing? Is it the mainstream authors mocking us? Is it my own sense of fatigue or fear of failure? Yes. All of it. My job is to hit as hard as I can and keep fighting. It’s up to the readers to decide who wins.

Q: Tell us about the Way of the Warrior project.

Bernard: it’s my personal view of law enforcement and how to apply it. I’m not a criminologist and none of what I say is meant for academia. It was written for cops who are looking for direction, or inspiration, or maybe a little guidance.

 Q: How’s that been received by readers and fellow law enforcers?

Bernard: extremely well. The reviews speak for themselves, but I also get emails and phone calls on a regular basis. The fact that police departments and training officers are using my book to instruct new recruits blows me away. There’s a big debate right now on how militarized American police are becoming. A very valid debate, actually. WOTW is directed at the individual officer and hopefully an encouragement to serve the public, not the system.

Q: Back to writing itself – for readers who’ve yet to pick up any of your work, where would you suggest they start? What’s a great introduction to Bernard Schaffer?

Bernard: it depends. I’ve reached a level now where I can offer you products in whatever category you prefer. My personal favorite is The Girl From Tenerife. Of course, that’s one of my least read books.

Q: I love your Superbia books. You have a new short story due out, correct? Tell us about that and how it ties in with the rest of Superbia.

Bernard: it’s a prequel to the first book and brings back Detective Vic Ajax. Vic is a complicated character for me. He’s me, or at least an aspect of me, that I purposely avoid. Vic is my wounded, tormented, true believer who would rather die than compromise what he thinks is right. Ultimately, he paid the price for that in the first book. Because of his early departure, there’s a lot about him we don’t know. This sheds a little light on Vic, but also reveals a hidden character to the series who is finally showing up. One that will be back, in a big way.

Q: Do Superbia and Way of the Warrior complement one another?

Bernard: Superbia is the shadow world of Way of the Warrior. In Superbia, the only people who know anything are the grunts. It’s fiction, no matter how much reality I inject into it. It shows you what can happen when we let it get out of control. WOTW is a good start to the conversation about how law enforcement professionals can stay on track.

Q: For readers who’ve followed your work for a long time (myself included), and for those who are about to make the discovery, what’s next for you? What does 2015 hold instore?

Bernard: at last count I had something like 30 titles to finish before I’d completed all my current projects. I’m at work every day trying to bring things up to speed. I have a few incomplete series out there that I have to deal with.

*****

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Epic Interview: Part 1

PART 1 OF AN EPIC INTERVIEW WITH . . . BERNARD SCHAFFER

Q: From reading your work over the years, and knowing you personally, you have an affinity for Science Fiction. What were your influences as a child?

Bernard: My father was a Star Trek fan and I remember sitting next to him on the couch, watching the show together. My mother was a hairdresser at the Village Mall, this tiny, depressed little shopping venue, and she’d have to take me to work with her sometimes. The mall had a movie theater that showed older movies, and it was an easy way for me to kill time. Empire Strikes Back was about to come out, and they were playing Star Wars in the theater. I probably watched it at least twenty times, by myself. I was maybe five, six years old. The day Empire came out, I’ll never forget this, my dad took me out of school early to go see it. We don’t get along too well anymore, but he did those things for me and I’ll always remember it.

 Q: What’s the state of science fiction today, in your opinion?

Bernard: I think science fiction reflects society, our hopes and fears can quite easily be seen in the face of our imaginings. It’s no surprise that zombie apocalypses are dominating the genre, because everywhere you look someone is ringing the Ebola death knell, the killer bee death knell, the conservative or liberal death knell. I often wonder when these doomsday preppers are going to look at their garages full of canned food and stockpiled ammo and think, “Shit, I can’t believe it didn’t happen yet.”

Q: Let’s get it out there: Star Trek or Star Wars? Fans of either or both inevitably get asked that question by someone. Do you have a favourite?

Bernard: tough, tough question. Both represent something completely different to me. I love Star Wars for the magical quality it has. From the first orchestral chords to the scrawl of the opening text it just takes me back to being a kid again. Star Trek, however, is about something much larger. It’s about the future of humanity if we can manage to get there. I love Star Wars but I don’t base my political opinions on it. As crazy as it sounds, Star Trek factors into my personal belief systems, or at least inspired me as a child enough to develop them.

Q: I remember your excitement when Prometheus was about to be released, and your eventual disappointment in the end result. When science fiction movies get it right, watching them can become a life-changing experience in that they can alter our view of the universe or even life itself. Have you had an experience like that watching a science fiction movie?

Bernard: The Matrix would have to be the one movie that makes you step back and reevaluate things. I don’t mean the idea that we’re all plugged into an alternate reality. It’s really about all of us being part of a system, some kind of artificial construct that we mindlessly participate in. What happens if you break away from that? What happens if you look past “The Matrix” of control we’re surrounded by and try to be free? Everyone is a slave to some sort of system. Most never realize it. I’m interested in peeling back the curtain and examining the restraints. Maybe they were put up with good intentions. Maybe they’re just mechanisms to keep us all in our place.

Q: The best and worst science fiction movies of recent years? What were you most impressed by and, similarly, let down by?

Bernard: I think the recent X-Men movies have been surprisingly good. Probably because I keep expecting them not to be. Prometheus collapsed under the weight of its storyline. The Evil Dead remake was great. But my favorite had to be Godzilla. When Godzilla emerged through the dust and smoke, the entire audience cheered. They balanced the character’s mythology, majesty, and look so perfectly. Of course, I skip all the parts with the kid from Kick Ass. I just want to see Gojira.

Q: You infamously worked with Grand Master of Science Fiction Harlan Ellison in publishing Resistance Front (an anthology of work to aid charity, in this case The Center For Missing and Exploited Children), which you edited. I’m not going to go into the behind-the-scenes details of that experience, as that’s been covered in depth before. I wondered if you’ve had any further contact with Unca Harlan.

Bernard: I got a phone call from Harlan right before we did a presentation at the Philadelphia Comic Con in 2013. I’d sent Susan an email asking if she wanted us to promote anything, or hand out flyers, and Harlan called me directly with an offer of goods. It was nice to hear him sounding pleasant. That previous phone call was just an ugly thing, so I’m glad we got to speak once more as friends. I love the guy. Always will. I am just a small, small satellite in the grand solar system of Harlan Ellison’s life and career, but he’s a pretty big planet in mine. I’m certainly not alone in the ranks of people Harlan laid into.

Q: It hit the news recently that he had a stroke and was hospitalized. Then recently he was sent home and appears to be on the mend. I personally don’t think he’s as widely read as he should be. I myself recently ordered his collection ‘Slippage’ to add to  my collection. What do you consider Ellison’s eventual legacy will be? This is a man who’s won almost every award under the sun – do you think that one day his work will get the attention it deserves?

Bernard: Harlan’s better work has a growling, snarling edge to it. That being said, he comes from a very floral era in fiction. He overwrites in a vast majority of his work, which looks dated now. Purple is the word that comes to mind. Take the story, “The Beast That Shouted Love At The Heart Of The World.” It won the Hugo in 1969 and was the title of the collection, but that’s not a title someone would use now. The other problem is, he’s a prolific short story writer. Huge, teeming volumes of short stories that would leave the average reader befuddled where to begin. What Harlan needs is a good editor to come in, repackage his work and update it. The problem is, and I know this from personal experience, he wants it done exactly as it originally appeared. Not one speck or squiggle had better be off. But who am I to argue? He’s Harlan Ellison. He must know more than I do.

 Q: I’ve made no secret of the fact that Arthur C. Clarke is my own favourite science fiction author. But that doesn’t get past the fact that a lot of his work is now outdated and behind the times. What do you think the science fiction we’ve grown up reading will mean to readers 50 years from now? Will it still have relevance?

Bernard: I think it depends on our definition of the genre. Are we talking just spaceships and aliens, or all speculative fiction? Tolkien holds up. C.S. Lewis holds up. George R.R. Martin will hold up. Technology is a tricky thing to write about because at some point, everything becomes obsolete. Good fiction, science or otherwise is about the characters and story. That never gets old.

 Q: In the grand tradition, let’s make a prediction of our own – what will be the major advances in the next 10 years? Both in sciences, technology, space and politically?

Bernard: I’m pretty sure that no matter how much I speculate as to what they’re inventing next, it won’t even be close. Every week it seems like there’s a new announcement of some planet altering technology. And yet there are still countries without clean water, or basic health care. Even in our own countries we see a resistance to basic scientific understanding, like evolution or vaccination. It seems like the faster we expand at the top, reaching new heights with technology, we’re also expanding at the bottom. I’d like to see us firm up the middle a little better in the next decade. Let’s find ways to bring our discoveries to areas that need them, and focus on educating people instead of scaring them. I can’t see the use of 1 percent of the population having access to recreational space flight and 3-D printed bobble heads while whole countries starve to death.

That’s probably the Star Trek in me coming out.

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Age of Destiny (The Broken Stars, Book 1) now available for pre-order!

Coming out on October 27th, Age of Destiny, the first book in my new series The Broken Stars is now available for advance pre-order!  This means that you can click order now, and you’re guaranteed to have it sitting on your kindle on the 27th of October.

Note that the page count listed by Amazon is not a true reflection of the book’s length – it’s not finished yet. But in order to use the pre-order service, you have to provide them with at least a rough draft to start off with. I upload the finished book on the 16th, in time for Amazon to ensure it reaches everyone who has pre-ordered it. The Broken Stars is set in the same fictional universe as Far From Home, though set decades later, and featuring none of the Far From Home characters. But eagle-eyed readers will spot the references to Far From Home (and other things!) I’ve put in there, so look out for them.

Mostly featuring a cast of younger characters, I promise a rollicking good adventure yarn that will keep you on the edge of your seat!

*What’s more, if you pre-order the book you get it for 99c/75p – after the 27th of October, it will be 3.99*

Amazon.com Link

Amazon.co.uk Link

The Broken Stars Book 1 Cover Blank